Students Participate in Dada-Inspired Performance Art
These are all people you may know, students you’ve seen walking around campus, eating in the Dining Center, studying in Lunt Café. So what, you ask, are they doing in these masks, popping out of a wooden board in Ryan Student Center that looks like a Whac-a-Mole game at your local carnival?
This is all the vision of installation and performance artist William Pope L., a 2008-2009 Visiting Artist through the Humanities Center. The Humanities Center’s website describes the art project thus:
Further debunking vestigial notions of genius and mastery, the “Corbu Pops” will be not only the pieces Pope.L makes but will also be a set of entertainers, dressed up in “Le Corbusier” outfits, who will perform after the opening night lecture, flirting with the animation of the inanimate (a cross between puppetry and commodity fetishism). These bespectacled entertainers will be a group of Haverford undergraduates chosen to sing and compose, under the tutelage of Pope.L, a dada-esque score of musical “nonsense.”
I started my involvement in this project early this year, working on gathering the group of students that would be creative, enthusiastic, and frankly, game enough to participate in this project with Pope L. The students we finally came up with ranged from all sorts of backgrounds: electronic music, a cappella, theater, dance, and even graduate students studying musicology. I participated in the first rehearsal, which was an experience like none other I’d ever had. We’d think of a sound, and then try to imitate it with our voices. Some of the sounds we experimented with were the sounds of: an alarm clock going off, dropping a box, a cat hissing, and a chorus of witches. The end result will definitely be something to behold.
The exhibit, a commentary on modernism, utopia, nonsense, blackness, purity, and factory production, will open on February 19 at 6 p.m., beginning with a lecture by Pope L. followed by a performance by the Pops singers. The exhibit will also include the production of popsicles in the shape of mini Ryan Student Centers.
In both the performance piece and the installed work, Pope.L will attempt to recast the building (both literally and metaphorically). As Pope.L has said of the Student Center,
As a felt environment, as I moved through the building, around it, and it moved through me, the building “textures up” like a “confusing machine,” a machine that manufactures disorientation in the form of a dark viscous liquid. Unlike a washing machine, this machine creates opacities.
Photo courtesy of Shiloh Cinquemani